Like most Canadians, Merren deBellefeuille has been glued to the TV watching the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics.
But for the 14-year-old Comox snowboarder, it was a bit of preview of what was to come this weekend as she represents Vancouver Island- Central Coast Zone 6 in her first multisport competition at the B.C. Winter Games in Kamloops. In fact, it is her first snowboard competition period.
“It is really amazing. I still have slopestyle tomorrow (Saturday) but just coming and competing here it is such a great experience. The Opening Ceremony was so cool, it is like a mini-Olympics. The real Olympics are happening now and you are at home watching that then you come here and get to compete, so you get to see kind of what it is like,” said deBellefeuille. “I feel like if I went to the Olympics in the next four to eight years, I would love to have gone here first so I know what it is like.”
deBellefeuille is the only athlete in Zone 6 competing in snowboard at the Games. But it isn’t lonely at the top – of the hill.
“You are all staying together and get to know each other. At the end of the run you all high-five and say ‘good job’ to the other people you are racing. It doesn’t really matter who wins or loses. We all did it, we all made it here,” said deBellefeuille. “I am just really proud to be here and holding up snowboard for my Zone at the B.C. Winter Games.”
deBellefeuille competed in snowboard cross on Friday, and although she didn’t medal she soaked it in as a learning experience.
“My legs were shaking at the end. It didn’t even feel like it happened because it went by so fast,” said deBellefeuille who was beaming after getting her first competition under her feet. “I can’t believe the first day is already over. It was just so amazing. Everyone is so supportive. I didn’t win anything but everyone at the bottom of the run treated me like I did.”
deBellefeuille is also a talented dancer, winning third place for lyrical solo in a regional competition and fourth place nationally last year. She credits her family, which includes three siblings, for helping her find her snowboarding passion.
“We are all homeschooled so we learned to snowboard when we were little and we all go out together. I was just one years old the first time they took me out. It has just been a great experience as a family.”